According to a Cybercast News Service (CNS) article, the ethanol industry has become a “major polluter” of the environment. An investigation by CNS reveals numerous citations of the industry for violating clean air laws. The industry, often proclaimed as friendly to the environment and a “cornerstone of America’s energy policy,” is instead being seen by many as a major contributor to the nation’s pollution problems.
Part of the problem involves older plants that were built before the environmental impact of producing ethanol was fully understood. Geoff Cooper of the National Corn Growers Association is quoted by CNS, “Some of the older plants that have been around for a decade or longer were built at a time when the regulatory regime for these types of facilities wasn’t completely ironed out. Some of those older plants are having to do some things to get up to code. “
Other people see the ethanol industry as “sidestepping the law.” The result has been dirty air and water supplies across America’s heartland, the area where most of the plants are located. Ethanol plants, touted as job-producing businesses for rural areas, are coming under attack by some of the residents of those same rural areas who see the results of pollution as more of a concern than the promise of economic benefits.
Larry Alberty, who owns a bed and breakfast in Fordland, Missouri, is concerned about the impact of a proposed plant in nearby Rogersville, not only on the environment, but also on the tourism business. Alberty told CNS, “Eleven million people visit this area [each year]. People aren’t going to want to come to the bed and breakfast and hear the noise and the light pollution.”
Activists predict that there will be more opposition to new plants, and that the ethanol industry’s reputation has been tarnished by the citations for violations and the potential impact on local businesses and the environment.
While the pro-ethanol lobby agrees that there have been problems with the industry, especially the shortcomings of older plants, they say that overall there is more support for new plants than there is opposition. “Things are getting better [with the environmental impact] Geoff Cooper told CNS. “When you look at the carbon footprint and ethanol’s ability to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, the industry’s track record speaks for itself,” he said. “Where you’re seeing most of the opposition is from fringe groups, ” he added.
CNS, ‘Green’ energy source a major polluter, www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.asp
Free Republic, www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1849405/posts
For a parallel article on the bending of rules by Congress and the ethanol industry, see an article linked to the CNS article above.